The finest English novel of all time – George Orwell’s 1984 – deals at length with how the debasement of language helped to create an unfree society. Indeed, Orwell included an appendix to his novel called “The Principles of Newspeak.” Words are vitally important in a free, democratic society and the way some words have been twisted to mean something different to their original meaning can be very damaging. The most disturbing example of the way words have been twisted is “racism.”
The following definition comes from the Encyclopedia Britannica:
“Racism, also called racialism , any action, practice, or belief that reflects the racial worldview—the ideology that humans may be divided into separate and exclusive biological entities called “races”; that there is a causal link between inherited physical traits and traits of personality, intellect, morality and other cultural and behavioral features; and that some races are innately superior to others. Since the late 20th century the notion of biological race has been recognized as a cultural invention, entirely without scientific basis.”
I don’t believe anyone could seriously deny that in the past, the UK was an extremely racist society. Growing up in the 1970s, it was common to hear words like “P***” and “n*****” and, to my shame, I used them myself. So-called comedians could get laughs on the television simply by using racial slurs. And even cartoons like Tom and Jerry thought it was hilarious if a character looked like a racist picture of a black person after being blown up.
Call me naïve if you like but I honestly believe society has moved on and is much less racist today than during my childhood. It is very rare to hear racial slurs these days and most people would object to those who choose to use them. I don’t believe this is because of the “political correctness” that some right-wing foamers rail against; I believe it is because of most people’s innate politeness and desire not to cause hurt and offence to others. I would say to the aforementioned foamers, do you really want to use racial slurs? And if so, why?
As real, overt racism has declined, so increasingly bizarre and Orwellian definitions of racism have proliferated. In a episode of Yes, Minister, Ian Lavender’s character refers to Parkinson’s Law of Social Work – the idea that social problems increase to occupy the time of available social workers. Could it be the case that the constant discovery of new forms of racism is designed to keep numerous academics and diversity officers in employment? If these folks didn’t find lots of racism to fight against they’d be out of a job.
But my real problem is the new racism of people who would claim to against the old form of racism that was so common in my childhood. This has been called “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” Too many commentators in the UK hold people of immigrant background to lower standards of behaviour or judge their actions differently to those of the local population. Thus in the past few decades issues like female genital mutilation (FGM), honour killings and forced marriage have become real problems in parts of the UK. But the authorities have done little or nothing about these issues for fear of being called racist. However, the real racists are the people who judge people of immigrant background by different standards and assert that these problems are cultural, as if that somehow excuses them. Call these problems what they really are – FGM is child abuse, honour killings are murder and forced marriage is rape. If you defend the lack of real action about any of these issues on cultural grounds YOU ARE A RACIST.
The disgusting behaviour of the police and social workers who failed to protect vulnerable girls from sexual abuse in Rotherham, Rochdale, etc because they were afraid of accusations of “racism” and “Islamophobia” is beneath contempt. Defending yourself against accusations of child abuse by alleging racism by the authorities is as desperate as it is despicable.
The ongoing debate about women who wear hijabs is another example of the new racism. Since the hijab is only mandatory in various conservative Islamic sects, are you suggesting that all women with a Middle Eastern or South Asian background are conservative Muslims? If so, YOU ARE A RACIST. You are also a sexist because you believe it is fine for misogynist clerics to force “their” women to wear what they are told.
I wonder what women who have escaped from vicious dictatorships like Syria think when they arrive in Europe and the new racists force them into the arms of the very people who have turned their homeland into a bloodbath? We should be helping the victims of the Syrian civil war but by making the racist assumption that they must be “Muslims” we are simply perpetuating the cycle of abuse that has made so made countries in the Middle East so unpleasant for so many women to live in. Instead of focusing on non-existent problems like “racism” or “Islamophobia,” UK authorities must tackle the real issues that are stopping people of immigrant backgrounds playing a full part in our society. And if that means upsetting aggressive, authoritarian religionists or the bigoted new racists who control so much of the UK media and academia then so be it.